Friday, February 26, 2010

One Page Dungeon Contest DEADLINE

Don't forget the deadline is the end of the month. If you're going to get your One Page Dungeon submitted you've only got a couple days left (and there are a lot of cool prizes).

Check the web site for details. Good luck everyone!

: )

Luke Couldn't Shoot Straight to Save His Ass...

...obviously, he was meant for something other than a blaster.

This is NOT a D20 post.

I know that some people prefer the original Star Wars film trilogy to the prequel trilogy ("Episodes I - III"), just as some prefer Star Wars to Star Trek, or Elvis to the Beatles, or Led Zeppelin to the Stones. I don't think there's any denying that the first trilogy are better films, than the prequels just as there's no question that the Beatles wrote most of their own music while Elvis did not (um...and that's no slight on The King as I can't stand the Beatles). But story-wise, subject matter wise, which era do you prefer? For play, I mean.

Problem is, this doesn't seem like a fair question to me. Because why I'd like to say I'd prefer the Prequel Era to the Rebellion Era, what I'd actually prefer is a Prequel Era based on the subtle hints of the Rebellion Era films.

This may seem like esoteric gibberish, so I'll try to explain what I mean. I haven't read Michael Kaminski's The Secret History of Star Wars, but in re-watching the original movie (now known as "Episode IV") it's pretty clear that Lucas deviated a lot from his original ideas when he wrote the prequel trilogy.

From Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope):

"I haven't gone by the name Obi-Wan since before you were born..."
- Ben Kenobi

"My father didn't fight in the Wars...he was a navigator on a spice freighter."

"That's what your uncle told you. He didn't hold with your father's ideals; thought he should've stayed here and not gotten involved."
- Luke and Ben

"Luke's just not a farmer Owen; there's too much of his father in him.""

"That's what I'm afraid of."
- Owen and Beru

"[Anakin] was the best star pilot in the Galaxy...and a cunning warrior."
- Ben

"Your father wanted you to have this [lightsaber] when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it. He feared you might follow old 'Obi-Wan' on some damn fool idealistic crusade, like your father did."
- Ben

"...[Darth Vader] helped hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights...Vader was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force."
- Ben on Vader
"Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you..."

"I find your lack of faith disturbing."
- Vader and the Death Star officers

"The Jedi are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe. You my friend are all that's left of their religion."
- Grand Moff Tarkin

"You should not have come back."
- Vader to Obi-Wan

In reading these quotes, they just don't jibe with what appears in the prequel films. Vader isn't seduced by the power of the Force...he's a sad-sack co-dependent twenty-something dupe. He's not what I'd call a "cunning warrior," often losing his own weapon, getting limbs cut off, and diving into trouble head-first. Owen and Beru had extremely little knowledge of Anakin and certainly no influence on what decisions he did or did not make. The "Clone Wars" as portrayed in the prequel films have nothing of an "idealistic crusade" to them, and Obi-Wan didn't recruit Anakin into them.

I know in Return of the Jedi, Luke asks Leia what she remembers about her mother...her "real" mother...and Leia recounts a memory of her being sad, something that obviously contradicts the prequel films. This seems to suggest a number of things:

- that the Skywalker wife survived childbirth, and Luke was separated for whatever reason (probably for the possibility of someday being trained by Obi-Wan...kind of a Merlin/Arthur thing)

- BUT that Luke was NOT spirited off by Ben, who dropped the name Obi-Wan and left in self-exile (possibly out of shame for what he had wrought with Vader) before Vader ever sired children

- that the Force and the Jedi were once conceived of being a religious order (like the Templar Knights or some such) and that young men were taken off their own homeworlds to become adventuring guardians of Order

- that Anakin/Vader chose the path of the Dark Side deliberately ("cunningly," even), in order to increase his own power

Other things said in other (original) films seem to suggest that there are no monastic requirement precluding Jedi from being married and participating in family life, and that in fact this was a way to make sure Jedi/Force potential was passed on, just as the son of a medieval lord would one day be expected to wield his father's sword in defense of The Land.

Now, I'm not just posting this to beat up on the prequel films and their going waaay off the rails (like I said, I know a LOT of folks get irritated by the prequel films) it or not, their Lucas's movies and if he had lapses in ideas in the intervening years between film-making, well that's understandable. I AM saying that after spending time re-watching these films it is obvious to me that there ARE lapses...not in judgment (though the Greedo-thing and the Gungan argue perhaps some of that), but a lapse in the feel of the Star Wars universe, if that makes any sense.

I can say this with 100% truthfulness: when I heard Lucas was making the prequel films I was incredibly, incredibly excited and NOT just because I wanted "more Star Wars;" by the time the prequels were released there were already many books, comics, RPGs, and a couple additional feature-length films (admittedly, with Ewoks). No, the reason I was excited was because I wanted to see how the whole story un-folded...the drama that led to The Fall of Vader. I wanted to see what the "more civilized age" was like "before the dark times, before the Empire." Dammit, I wanted to see Jedi Knights fighting in the Clone Wars.

Instead I got a randy and none-too-quick teenager, an Obi-Wan that eats at the Galaxy's local greasy-spoon diner (this is "the more civilized age?") when he's not drinking at the bar, a bunch of Stormtroopers cloned from a Boba Fett clone (and fighting WITH the Jedi), and legions and legions of cannon-fodder droids(?!).

At least there were some cool lightsaber fights.

Okay, okay...I said I wasn't going to beat up on the prequels and here I am starting to rant (I LIKED the prequels, dammit! at least sometimes). This was all just a prelude to say, if I were to write a Star Wars RPG, it would be set in the pre-Rebellion era and it would be based on the unfulfilled potential of the films as much as what was actually in 'em. I think. Now that I look back at what I just wrote, it seems like this is a repeating pattern for me (see: my B/X Companion project).

Jeez. I don't know why I feel so compelled to "fix things." It must be something in my caring nature.
; )

OKAY...that really is it for now. I'm going for a walk!

The Madness Has Abated

My wife helped me see how ridiculous my recent D20 Star Wars obsession had become...or as she put it, "you need to finish one project before you start going off on another!" Not that Star Wars my "secret project" mentioned earlier...but it certainly was eating up my time (especially cutting into my sleep time), and keeping me from the things I have to finish.

For instance, I've received another four illustrations for the B/X Companion...more beautiful stuff I might add...and have been in contact with another illustrator. Unfortunately, the cover artist I was attempting to hire has fallen through, so now I need to get someone who knows how to paint OR try to mock something up myself that my buddy can "color" for me. Neither prospect is especially appealing, but I really want a REAL cover illo, not some plain-wrapper cover (reminds me of Spinal Tap's Black Album).

The adventure for the B/X Companion still needs to be finished up, especially the maps which need to go to the Good Doctor for finishing. Doc is actually working on an adventure module for the "secret project" and he's been starting to pester me for the chargen and combat rules...something else I need to finish writing! more Star Wars posts, at least for awhile. Certainly not about D20...I'm actually fed up with it.

Oh chargen is fun, if extremely complex and fiddly (finally found out why some of the character write-ups in the core rules have a mysterious extra "+1" bonus in their attack stats: a sidebar on lightsabers gives characters a bonus when using a self-crafted weapon)...and combat is...well, it's a good step up from D20 3rd edition. I certainly prefer the skill rules in the Saga Edition to any other version of D20 I've seen, though that's not saying much.

But the starship rules are the real deal-breakers.

Personal combat using maps and grids is one thing. But dogfights in space need to be more abstract by necessity, at least if one is playing an RPG and not an "X-Wing simulator" video game. Unfortunately, D20 Star Wars treats ship-to-ship combat pretty much the same as personal combat (ships just being extensions of their characters) right down to two-dimensional grid combat. Definitely not what I'm looking for...

I pulled out my WEG Star Wars and compared the two and once again was thoroughly impressed with their handling of the same subject. In fact, the more I read it the more I find I prefer A LOT of the D6 Star Wars game, despite its lack of cool "combat effects" (feats, talents, etc.) or "customizable character creation."

WEG Star Wars still has problems for me, though. The advancement is too slow, the force "powers" are too clunky and ugly, the "backseat to the film NPCs" extremely annoying. Plus it doesn't take into account the Prequel films, which is problematic in some regards. And I have to admit, I get a little tired of rolling handfuls of dice just to add them all together (if you're just looking for one number, why not roll one or two dice and add bonuses? Sheesh!). Also, it's promotion of "fudging" goes against MY dice-rolling sensibilities (aren't there already Force points and metagame mechanics to take into account the heroic nature of the player characters?).

So while WEG did many things right, it still has flaws...ones that make me put it back on the shelf.

D20 Star Wars will be keeping it company, I'm afraid. It's very pretty but it's SO complex I can't see playing it. I mean, I'm sure if I logged several hours of game play, I could memorize most of the fiddly bits (just as I memorized all those rules regarding Weapon Speed Factors and segments back in my old AD&D days). But I just don't have the time and patience for it. Nor the time and patience to find like-minded players. One of the problems I had when I WAS playing 3rd edition D&D was the inability to find players that were on the same page. The games I played in (instead of as a DM) I found that I knew more than the DMs regarding the rules and spent a lot of time explaining the finer points of tumbling and attacks of opportunity and such...and when I had players that KNEW the rules, they were universally gamist munchkins and min-maxers I found incredibly annoying (both as a DM and as a fellow player).

Ugh...I know, I know...I'm a big fat whiner.

Anyway, that's the end of the SWD20 posts for a good long while (and here I was starting to get tempted to do more than browse that Rebel Era Sourcebook - *shudder*). In fact, the next time I talk about Star Wars at all, it may well be to promote my own SW look-alike RPG. After all, Wizards has given up the IP rights to the RPG...I don't think it would be too difficult to build a better mouse trap.

Yes, project at a time. Got it.
; )

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Combat with Dooku - Round 2 (Part 2)


Chris: "What am I going to do?" I’m going to bum rush…er, Bantha Rush this geezer, THAT's what!

JB: Wait a second…I thought your new feat was “Power Attack!”

Chris: No, no…I made a mistake earlier. I meant to say “Rapid Strike” – hey, I missed anyway! But look, you can see I have “Bantha Rush” right here on my character sheet.

JB (*incredulous*): Hmmm…okay, Bantha Rush. But I’m going to remember this for the future!

Chris: Right! So I struggle to my feet as a move action and charge the guy as a standard action…I’m more than two “squares” away [rolls 13+15=25+2 for charging =27] I’ll spend a Force point on the effort [rolls 2D8 because Anakin is “Strong in the Force” and takes the higher roll of 7] That’s a total of 34, better than your Reflex defense since you’ve left your guard down. I’m knocking him over the balcony.

Lee: I’ll land break my fall and roll to my feet using Acrobatics [rolls 4+13=17].

Chris: Don’t forget damage, though! [rolls 2D8+14 and rolls up a 24 total]. Are you feeling that?

Lee: Your measly kicks don’t even come close to my Damage Threshold. You coming down here, boy?

Chris: I leap down from the balcony and attack him with a Rapid Strike!

JB: Roll your Jump…this will count as a charge if successful. [Chris rolls a 14+14=28] Good enough; continue with your attack [Chris rolls 2+14+2-2=16] Mmm. Not enough. Dooku blocks everything you throw at him.

Lee: I keep my Makashi going as a swift action, and as a standard action I’ll use my new Temptation talent to goad him. “I sense much fear in you Skywalker…you have anger but you don’t use it…you have hatred but you keep it pent up like a caged animal. Give into your feelings!” [rolls Persuasion 18+17=35 easily eclipsing Anakin’s Will defense of 26] Ha! Now you can’t use Force points without gaining a Dark Side point or suffering a Condition penalty!

Chris: You know what? I’m going to let the “hatred flow” a bit. I use Dark Rage as a swift action and press the attack…I’ll spend a Force point to keep the Rage on for the remainder of the encounter [rolls a 19+12-1 (for his mechanical arm) = 30! This gives Anakin a +6 to attack and damage]. Now rolling to hit [rolls 12+15+6=33, not enough].

JB: That’s TWO Dark Side points kid…one for the Dark Rage and one for spending a Force point. However, since you’ve chosen the Destiny “Destroy Dooku” your actions in aid of your quest will give you a +2 bonus to all damage rolls for the next 24 hours.

Chris: Totally worth it.

Lee: I attack him two-handed! [rolls 12+20=32] Hit! Damage is [rolls 2D8+16] 21 points of damage.

Chris: I use Djem So to make an immediate attack of opportunity [rolls 13+15+6=34] That beats you without your fancy Deflection bonus.

Lee: I’ll Block [rolls 7+22=29] AND spend a Force point [rolls 3D6 and takes the best roll, a 5]…that brings me up to 34, stopping your attack!

Chris: I’m going to spend a Destiny point to steal Initiative and act out of turn.

Lee: What?!

JB: Turnabout is fair play. As I told Lee, you can only do this once per encounter.

Chris: Fine by me. I make a Double Attack and I’m going to spend two more Destiny points to make each blow Critical.

Lee: No way! Can he do that?!

JB (*consulting rule book*): Hmm…Destiny points do not cost any actions to use, and there’s no limit on how many you can use per round…unlike Force points.

Lee (*panicking*): I can still try to Block both attacks as reactions right?

JB: Yes, but remember that you suffer a cumulative -5 penalty to each successive Block attack attempted before your next turn, and you’ve already used one against his Djem So attack. You also already used a Force point (for that same Block) so you can’t use any more to boost your Block checks.

Lee: Ugh! And I’m out of Destiny points, too! Oh, well…here goes! [rolls a 10+22-5=27 and a 4+22-10=16].

JB: Lee, that was pathetic. Anakin’s attacks count as Criticals, so you needed to roll at least 35s…excuse me, 41s because of his Dark Rage! Go ahead and roll damage, Chris, and don’t forget to double it; roll separate for each attack.

Chris: [rolls 2D8+22 for each, including the +2 Destiny bonus and +6 Dark Rage] Damage results after doubling is 64 and 66! However, I will use my severing strike ability to simply cut off both his arms below the elbow.

Lee: You little bastard!

Chris: Hey, “do unto others,” buddy. And you’re too dangerous with those sword hands. Don’t worry - you can always get cybernetic replacements…isn’t that what you told me?

JB: All right, all right…Lee, the first blow shears through your right wrist for 32 points of damage, the second through your left for 31. Since both meet or exceed your Damage Threshold of 33, both blows drop you an additional -1 on the Condition track for a total of -4 (including -1 for each severing blow). You’re on your knees in front of him, can only move at half speed, and receive a -10 to all defenses, skill rolls, and attacks –

Chris: Assuming you want to try kicking me!

JB: …but at least he let you live, Lee. Of course, Chancellor Palpatine is still in the background, and he tells Anakin “you should kill him…he’s too dangerous to let live!”

Lee: I refuse to beg for my life.

Chris: It’s not the Jedi way to kill a helpless prisoner.

JB: It’s your call; he IS the most dangerous leader of the Separatists with the possible exception of General Grievous. Who knows what might happen once he gets some mechanical hands. But you WILL pick up a Dark Side point if you do it.

Chris: Ah, what the hell. It’s my Destiny to destroy him after all. I decapitate him with a swift blow.

Lee: Crap…do I get to play Mace now?

JB: Sure, man. Anakin, as you free the chancellor he commends you for defeating Dooku. “The Sith was too dangerous to let live…plus it’s only natural you’d want some payback for your arm. What did you do to the Tusken Raiders, after all? Now let’s get out of this place!” He’s heading for the door.

Chris: Wait, I want to go check on Obi-Wan first…

Combat with Dooku - Round 2 (Part 1)


Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus (CL 17)
Venerable medium human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 5/Jedi Master 2/Noble 1/Sith Apprentice 1/Sith Lord 1

Destiny 1 Force Points 15 Dark Side 15
STR 5 DEX 14 CON 8 INT 13 WIS 15 CHA 18
Ref 33 For 30 Wil 33
Hps 99 Damage Threshold 30

General Obi-Wan Kenobi (CL 14)
Adult medium human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 4/Soldier 1/Officer 1/Jedi Master 1

Destiny 11 Force Points 14 Dark Side 0
STR 14 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 13 WIS 14 CHA 10
Ref 29 For 29 Wil 29
Hps 129 Damage Threshold 35

Anakin Skywalker (CL 13)
Adult medium human Scout 1/Jedi 7/Ace Pilot 2/Jedi Knight 3

Destiny 10 Force 12 Dark Side 9
STR 16 DEX 13 CON 15 INT 12 WIS 13 CHA 12
Ref 28 For 27 Wil 26
Hps 114 Damage Threshold 27

JB, Lee, Chris, and Evan are once again playing D20 Star Wars. The latest session takes place three years in the (campaign/game's) future. All characters have been advanced the same amount of XP and aged three years. Frustrating as this is for Lee (whose elderly Dark Jedi has now passed into the realm of the venerable), he is confident that his newly gained power is more than enough to face down his nemesis foes. Francis is once again at the store getting snacks.

After a pitched star fighter battle the Jedi Knights have managed to make it to the observation bridge of the Invisible Hand warship, where they intend to free the kidnapped Chancellor of the Republic Senate.

JB: As you look for a way to free the Chancellor from his bindings, a glance over your shoulder shows Count Dooku has arrived from the upper floor balcony. Behind him are too, huge B2 battle droids. Palpatine tells you both to leave him and find help...that Dooku is a Sith Lord, more than match for you two!

Evan (*smirking*): Chancellor, "Sith Lords" are out speciality!

Lee: I tumble down to the ground [rolls acrobatics 19+15=34]. That would have been Olympic gold boys!

JB: What is everyone doing? Let's roll for initiative. Remember, we only roll ONE TIME for the entire battle...after that, you can only change your Initiative order through delaying actions. There's no need to roll Perception as none of you are surprised. [all players roll Initiative. Lee gets a 16+15=31. Obi-Wan gets a 19+9=28. Chris rolls a 9+12=21. This will be the order for the rest of the battle]

Evan: This time, we'll take him together instead of splitting up.

Chris: I was just thinking the same thing.

Lee: I'm going to use Adept Negotiator to weaken Kenobi's resolve. "Put up your swords...we wouldn't want to make a mess in front of the poor chancellor." [rolls Persuasion 19+17=36; this greater than Obi-Wan's Will defense and so his Condition monitor is moved to -1]. "Ha, I can feel your fear, Kenobi!" As a move action I activate my lightsaber, and as a swift action, I will use my lightsaber defense with one-handed Makashi.

Evan: I am going to move past Dooku using tumble and spend my standard action to aid Anakin by forcing Dooku to defend himself against me. [rolls Acrobatics 13+14-1=26; his attack roll to aid Anakin is an 8+17-1=24; Evan only needed to roll a 15 for the former and a 10 for the latter to succeed]. Ha yourself...I force Dooku to face me (my lightsaber was drawn and activated during my move) giving Anakin a +2 bonus, plus another +2 as we are now flanking him!

Chris: Here we go...just a straight move and attack [rolls a 5+15+4=24, not even close to Dooku's Reflex defense of 36]. Ugh!

JB: Your go, Lee.

Lee: I move backwards, keeping the Makashi up as a swift move, and continue to intimidate Kenobi with my Adept Negotiator, making him think the cause is hopeless. "I've been looking forward to a re-match; I was hoping you'd improved your technique." [rolls another(!) 19+17=36; Obi-Wan is now down to condition -2]. Crumble in despair, Evan.

Evan: You just keep focused on me, pal. Still assisting [rolls 18+17-2=33] and still keeping Dooku flanked. Try that attack again, Anakin!

Chris: Yes, sir! [rolls 17+15+4=36; exactly matching his Reflex and thus hitting] "You'll find my powers have doubled since the last time we fought, Count." [rolls damage 8+14=22; Dooku is down to 77].

Lee: "Twice the pride, double the fall, boy!" I'm going to Force Slam Obi-Wan while backing up the stairs, and keeping the lightsaber defense up. [rolls 12+22=34]. That'll knock him out right?
JB: It knocks him down. Roll damage.

Lee: I'm spending a Force point to up the damage. [rolls 25; Obi- is down to 104].

Evan: Not enough to keep me down. I kip up as a swift action [rolls 11+14-2=23; he needed a 15] and I'm going to spend two swift actions towards recovering back up to -1.

Chris: I'm going to do a Power Attack at -2 and spending a Force point. [rolls 7+15-2+6=26] Ugh! I was really feeling that one.

Lee: I disengage back up the stairs using a full defense, with Makashi...though still ready to make an Attack of Opportunity. I signal to the battle droids to head down the stairs and blast the good General.

JB: I'll roll for the droids...they're both rapid firing, just trying to score a critical. [rolls a 9 and 15, getting scores of 13 and 19]. No hits.

Evan: I'll Deflect both shots as a reaction.

JB: You can only redirect ONE shot per round. Just roll once for Deflect and once for the attack; the second shot misses.

Evan: [rolls 7+12=19, deflecting the first shot. The attack roll is 6+16-1= 21. Damage to the droid is 4D8+7. Ewan rolls a total of 22 destroying the droid]. Since it's my turn now I use a swift action to finish raising my Condition to -1, move up the stairs and Rapid Strike the second droid. [rolls 9+16-3=22; rolling damage of 3D8+11 and gets a total of 26, whittling the droid into several small pieces]. It's going to take more than a couple droids to stand in my way!

Chris: Now we've got him in the pincers! I'm going to assist Obi-Wan with an aid roll [rolls a 20+15=35; a bit of over-kill for a DC 10 check!]. Dammit! Why can't I roll that for an attack!

Lee: I hit Skywalker and use a swift action to continue my Makashi defense [rolls 2+20=22 and misses].

Evan: I hit him with a single attack and use a Force point [rolls 13+16+4-1=32+6 (the result of the Force check)=38, just enough to exceed Dooku's adjusted defense of 36]. Right on!

Lee: I Block as a reaction [rolls 12+22=34] and spend a Force point [+6=38]. Now it's the next round and my turn. I will grab Obi-Wan with a Force Grip [rolls Use the Force at 9+22=31, holding him fast and doing 29 points of damage reducing him to 75]. Then I spend a Force point to Quicken the Force Thrust power as a swift action knocking Anakin back into a wall [rolls 14+22=36; Anakin rolls a Strength check of 6+11=17 and flies 6 meters back taking 6 points of damage and being knocked prone]. Ha!

Chris: Is it my turn yet?

JB: Since Obi-Wan is helpless (except for one swift action per turn), yes.

Lee: Wait! I want to spend my one Destiny point to act out of turn and steal initiative.

JB: Okay, but you can only use that ability once per encounter.

Lee: As I said, I only have one Destiny point from going up a level. I sling Obi-Wan away using Move Object, hurling him under the plasteel bulkhead a few meters away, then spend a Force point to Quicken Move Object again to move the bulkhead crushing him!

Evan: You bastard!

Lee: Sorry old friend, you chose the wrong side. [rolls 10+22=32 for the hurl doing 8D6 damage for a total of 33; then rolls an 18+22=40 for the crush doing 10D6 damage for 42 points of damage! A total of 75 bringing him down to 0] That's a death I'm afraid, as that 42 certainly exceeds your Damage Threshold.

Evan: I'm spending a Force point to stay alive!

JB: No problem. You are unconscious and at 0 hit points, but you are NOT dead. Chris, it's your turn.

Lee: Just you and me, boy!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Damn... I Screwed Up

Didn't I say this D20 was some fiddly shit? I completely missed the fact that you only roll Initiative ONE TIME and then the order doesn't change unless someone wants to delay an action. Wouldn't THAT have speeded everything up!

My combat example from yesterday is also tainted by my mis-use of the Force point rules. When a character spends a Force point to boost an attack or skill roll they roll 1D6 and add it to their total. If the character is 8th level they roll 2D6 and take the higher of the two dice, and if they are 15th level they roll 3D6 and take the higher of the dice. In other words, the MAXIMUM bonus received for spending a Force point is SIX (6), unless a character has the Strong in the Force feat (in which case they roll D8s instead of D6s). The latter folks would include Anakin, Luke, and Yoda amongst their number.

For those who care, here are the places this would have affected the combat:

- Obi-Wan would have failed to deflect Dooku’s Force Lightning and taken double damage.

- Dooku would have only hit Obi-Wan with one of his Double Attack rolls, taking less damage.

- Obi-Wan would have failed the Endurance check to stay conscious, but since this isn’t an actual rule in the game (the ACTUAL rule is: once you are reduced to 0 hit points or -5 Condition you are unconscious and unable to take any action), but rather an attempt to ape the movie, I could lower the DC to 20 or 25 or whatever to make it work.

- Dooku would probably have failed to hit Anakin’s 2nd lightsaber (he would have needed to roll a six on one of those three dice, instead of adding them together).

And that’s about it. All-in-all, the battle would probably have ended much the same, but it bugs me nevertheless (I like my calculations to be sans flaws). In my defense, I still remember WEG’s version of Force points which, while fewer in number (especially for non-Jedi) were incredibly badass in application. WotC gives you more frequent Force points, but they have a lesser impact (though still able to save your ass). Destiny points are the REAL ass-kickers.

Of course, after actually USING the combat system, I am again revising several of the character’s stat blocks. Dooku does NOT have Vaapad (per Star Wars lore, this is a form invented and only used by Mace Windu. Since it’s a non-film-canon talent, I feel I should stick with the non-film-canon interpretation)…besides, he can always spend a Destiny point if he wants to ensure a Crit hit on someone. Also, dropping one of his three Lightsaber Defense talents (2 + Makashi is enough), gives him the chance to add both Greater Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Specialist. I think most will agree he’s some kind of a specialist with the lightsaber.

Anakin (for whom I believe I neglected to roll D8s when using Force points…damn it!) is getting an upgrade, including Skill Focus (Use the Force) in place of Dual Weapon Mastery feat and Force Pilot talent in place of Jury-Rigger. He already has the Mechanics skill (seldom put it to much use save when talking to droids) and rearranging his feats to give him these at 1st level makes it much easier to show how a kid was flying a fighter like a champ even while young. Also readjusting his attributes (for like the 5th time…but this time I think it’s sticking!).

Speaking of piloting, finally gotten around to reading the piloting chapter and it’s a little…well, weird, I guess. So much of the Saga Edition seems to be gears to or descended from their miniatures line, and apparently WotC had a “starship battles” game system that they wouldn’t mind Star Wars players using; however, THAT system “doesn’t take into account heroic characters.”

Driving a starship appears (at first read) to be pretty much the same as maneuvering around the battle map, save using a slightly different scale. However, you still attack and do damage based on your level, and the Piloting skill is simply designed to let you do certain stunts. I don’t feel like “mapping” out star systems anymore than I feel like mapping out…well, anything really (what is this? A board game?). I’ll see if it can be played out in the head with any degree of “coolness.” Again, I fondly remember WEG’s more abstract starship combat. It SEEMS like Saga can be used abstractly (though those ships have a LOT of “hit points”), but I just can’t say at this time. I’d kind of like to recreate the first Death Star run.

Which brings me to another little sticky point: modeling a Luke Skywalker that won’t get gaffled. Modeling Luke by film is no problem, by the way: he’s a pretty straight-forward 1/8/12 character. The thing is, Vader is a strong level 17 in Episode IV…His Royal Badness should have no problem shooting down the rookie pilot.

Is Luke a rookie by the time of his Death Star run? That’s the real question. The thing that’s going to save him is ample use of Force and Destiny points. NOW…if Vader’s Destiny (after fulfilling his CORRUPTION by the Dark Side) was to DESTROY Obi-Wan Kenobi (which seems pretty likely…destinies take years or lots of effort to fulfill, per the rules and that execution was 20+ years and several lopped limbs in coming), then Vader would have NO ACCESS to his own Destiny Points until he’d chosen a new Destiny (like the CORRUPTION OF HIS SON, which can’t happen until he knows the kid exists). Which means, Luke is free to use his own Destiny points to save his bacon and Crit the hell out of the Death Star.

But how many does he have to work with? A character gets one Destiny point for every level of experience. Luke begins Episode IV with one level and one Destiny point…how many levels does he have by the time he climbs into the cockpit of his X-Wing?

Off-hand, I’m guessing THREE, as in, “he’s 3rd level.” This gives him the feats and talents he needs to fly like an Ace, a couple Destiny points to save his ass and one more to make “the Shot Heard ‘Round the Galaxy.”

Besides, I just don’t see him going up more than 3000XP over the course of the movie. By the time he’s got out of Mos Eisley and learned from Ben, he should have about 1000 (enough for 2nd level and to make the switch to Jedi 1). By the time he reaches Yavin he should have another 2000 (probably including a 1500 pt bonus or so for rescuing the Princess).

Would Luke get a Destiny bonus for rescuing his sister? Hard to say. How about destroying Death Star #1 (the Destiny examples include “Lando’s destiny to destroy the 2nd Death Star” and I distinctly remember him having the help of a whole lot of others, including Wedge Antilles). I think I prefer to play fast and loose with the Destiny interpretations (I’m a big fan of The Riddle of Steel’s “spiritual attribute” system), and err on the side of given ‘em. It’s the only way I see to boost characters so they can take on Big Bad Guys. For Luke, it looks something like:

- Destined to RESCUE Leia

- Destined to DESTROY Death Star

- Destined to DISCOVER Yoda

- Destined to RESCUE Han Solo

- (whereas Leia was destined to DESTROY Jabba the Hutt)

- Destined to REDEEM Darth Vader

That’s a LOT of Destinies fulfilled, providing a lot of decent, permanent bonuses. Of course, compare this with Vader:

- Destined to RESCUE Mother

- Destined to DESTROY Count Dooku

- Destined to be CORRUPTED by the Emperor

- Destined to DESTROY Obi-Wan

- Destined to CORRUPT his son

- (or alternately, DESTROY the Emperor)

I would not count his destruction of the Trade Federation space station as fulfillment of a Destiny (just as I wouldn’t count Obi-Wan’s destruction of Darth Maul) as neither event had huge and lasting impact on the Galaxy, nor did they take a noticeable amount of time and devotion to fulfill. Both were major obstacles, but in the end, they were single-encounter obstacles, not ones I give a lot of credit.

But you can see (I hope) how subjective this stuff is…there is “wiggle room” and space for interpretation, even in a game as fiddly and granular as D20. These metagame characteristics (Force points and Destiny points) certainly give the game a LOT more room for story creation than, say, 3rd edition D&D or Pathfinder. How so? Destinies set strong motivations and goals for players’ characters and Force points allow them to (somewhat) address premise by picking and choosing what they get spent on.

I mean, you don’t need to spend a Force point to save your bacon if it’s “dramatically appropriate” to die. I think Qui-Gon probably had plenty of FPs saved up when he fought Maul; in an RPG a level 14 character would probably NOT be so silly to blow his last “hole card.”

More on this later.

; )

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

D20 Star Wars Combat (Part 2)

Continued from HERE.

JB: Roll that initiative! [Lee rolls 9+21=30; Evan rolls 2+8-All = 0; Chris rolls 20+10-1=29!] Declarations?

Chris: Argh! Just realized my Shake It Off! feat allows me to recover conditions in two swift actions instead of three!

JB: Okay, well, we’re not going “back in time” now, but you would have been fully recovered without expending any actions this round, so now your Initiative is at 30 just like Lee. What are you going to do?

Chris: What is HE going to do?

Lee: Actually what is OBI-WAN going to do?

Evan: Obi-Wan would LIKE to attempt to stay conscious maybe using an Endurance check?

JB: Hmm…there’s no such thing as “Endure Pain.” Sure, go ahead…you won’t be able to move or take more than one swift action per turn and it’s a DC 30 check; otherwise, you’re unconscious.

Lee: Can I still do a coup de grace?

JB: Yes, of course…he just gets to be awake for it.

Lee: Excellent!

Evan: Hey!

Chris: In that case, I am going to use a Force point to Block his attack. After taking a move action to get adjacent to him of course.

Lee: Good luck. That’s an automatic Critical correct?

JB: Yes. Anakin will need to get a Crit to block.

Chris: I’ll spend a Destiny point.

JB: Um…you can’t spend a Destiny point till you’ve chosen a new Destiny. Remember? You just completed the “rescue your mother” Destiny.

Chris: Oh, I’ve got a new Destiny, all right. My character is destined to destroy Count Dooku!

Evan: All right!

Lee: Oh, crap!

JB: All right, you block the coup de grace. Are you making an attack with your standard action?

Chris: You bet! [rolls 16+10=26] Crap…I am never going to get through that 33 Reflex save of his.

Evan: You just need to roll a Critical 20!

Lee (*snarling*): Aren’t you supposed to be unconscious?

Evan: Oh, right, I need to make an Endurance roll to stay conscious [roll 11+11=22]. Guess I’ll spend a Force point to stay awake [rolls, adds +11=33]. There you go! As my swift action, I’ll toss my lightsaber to Anakin…at least that way you’ll have twice the chance to hit and Crit!

Chris: Right on!

JB: Everyone roll Initiative again. [Lee rolls a 20+21=41; Chris rolls a 17+10=27] Intentions? Evan, you go last regardless.

Evan: Got nothing to do this turn save whimper anyway.

Chris: I’m whacking away!

Lee: Swift action for Makashi, and attacking!

JB: Go ahead and roll. [Lee rolls 4+19=23; not enough to penetrate Anakin’s Reflex defense of 24].

Chris: My turn [rolls an 8 and a 20!] Right on! That’s a Crit!

Lee: I’ll Block as a reaction. [rolls 11+21=32 as a Use the Force roll. Anakin’s Critical is equal to a roll of 20+10=30, so the Block stops the Critical]. All right this is ridiculous.

JB: Initiative again [Lee rolls 11+21=33; Chris rolls 14+10= 24]. And…?

Chris: Whacking away!

Lee: I’m going to go two-handed and attack one of his sabers, attempting to destroy or disable it. [rolls 7+19=26] I’ll use a Force point to drive that up [rolls 3D6 as a 16th level character and gets an 11 increasing the total to 37, enough to hit it]. My damage roll is [rolls] 24…more than enough to destroy the weapon.

Chris: Trying again, two-handed now [rolls 17+10=27]. I’ll use a Force point and add [rolls 2D6 as a 9th level character] six to the roll…a 33 total.

JB: That equals your Reflex defense without Makashi, Lee. Are you blocking?

Lee: Better believe it [rolls 18+21=39]. Time to finish this whippersnapper.

JB: Roll Initiative. [Lee rolls a 5+21=26; Chris gets a 17+10=27]. Wow.

Chris: Finally!

Lee: (*…*)

JB: Your move Chris.

Chris: I beat him two-handed with a flurry of Rapid Strikes…and I’ll tell you right now I’m using a Force point [rolls 19+10=29 +6 (Force bonus) = 35 -2 (for Rapid Strike) = 33! A hit!]. Nice!

Lee: I’ll Block as a reaction [rolls 18+21=39]. My turn [rolls 19+19=38]; my mastery of Vaapad makes that 19 a critical. Damage is [rolls 9+16] 25 multiplied by three for my Triple Crit feat means you’re taking 75 points of damage.

Chris: Well, I can still spend a Destiny point to avoid the attack!

Lee: Chris, I’ve got more Destiny points than you. If you want to trade critical back and forth, your character will die. I’ll make you a deal: I’ll take the damage down to 37 using Severing Strike and you’ll lose an arm, but I’ll let you live. The Separatists needs strong young Jedi that aren’t afraid to dabble in the Dark Side of the Force.

Chris: Fine. Don’t forget my new Destiny, though.

Lee: Oh, I won’t, don’t you worry. And after taking his right arm, I am going to spend a Force point to activate a Quickened Force Slam as a swift action.

Chris: Hey!

Lee: Quit whining; your character’s still conscious! [rolls: 8+21=29, well-exceeding Anakin’s Fortitude defense]. You take [rolls 4D6] 18 points of damage, dropping you below 0. But 18 doesn’t exceed you Damage Threshold, right?

Chris: No, I’m just knocked out.

Lee: I try to land his unconscious body on top of Obi-Wan’s…those two are so inseparable!

JB: Okay, done. So…Obi-Wan and Anakin are both down for the count, Dooku’s ship is ready for departure, and let’s see what the final Force tally was: hmm, you guys really did go for broke! Dooku’s down to 9, Obi-Wan 5, and Anakin has 1 left!

Anakin: Thought I might need it to save my life. I made a deal with the devil.

JB: Oh, there’s always cybernetic replacements.

Lee: So am I out of here or what?

JB: Well, there is just one little thing more…make a Perception check....

; )

***NOTES: This was a good learning exercise. Folks familiar with Episode II will certainly remember the scene recreated here. However, it required me to make creative interpretations to figure out how to use the rules as written to model the cinematic scenario.

One thing it helped me see are alternatives of character creation. I should note that almost every roll above was actually rolled...the decisions made regarding what actions to take were structured by the sequence of the film, but the dice played out well, especially with the uses of Force and Destiny points. However, I see now that some of my assumptions about certain feat or talent combos are unnecessary in light of the game mechanics.

For example, giving Dooku "wicked strike" is completely unnecessary...he's able to take Obi-Wan out simply by reducing his hit points withOUT lopping off limbs. Even the "triple crit" is unnecessary if Anakin has fewer hit points to start the encounter...the damage assigned the characters at the beginning of the combat was totally arbitrary, not based on watching the arena battle on film.

Likewise, there's no reason for Anakin to have the "dual weapon mastery" feat for a single encounter, in which he's definitely NOT a master. It's useful to have as many attacks as possible when you don't normally have a "double" attack...basically, whenever you're relying on wild luck to hit your much more adept opponent, you want to throw as many attacks as possible out there to see what you can roll.

Lastly, I'd just like to note this combat write-up was almost six pages long. In screenplay writing, one page of text equates to one minute on screen. I don't know how it would work out in role-playing. Assuming ALL the players were on the ball, knew the rules, and were able to contribute to the encounter (withOUT too much "search & handling time") D20 Star Wars has the potential to be a pretty quick moving game, at least in encounters including only a couple/three individuals. Against more? Well, that remains to be seen.***

D20 Star Wars Combat (Part 1)

A completely fictional example of combat from the fictional D20 Star Wars game (Saga Edition): the purpose of this text is to illustrate how a battle might play-out; the players named are completely imaginary. However, actual dice WERE rolled!

JB is the referee. Lee is playing Count Dooku, a fallen Jedi that has turned to the Dark Side (CR 16). Evan is playing Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Knight (CR 11), and Chris is playing his aspiring padawan Anakin Skywalker (CR 9). A fourth player, Francis, is playing Padme Amidala, a noble (CR 9), but she has run across the street to pick up some snacks. We pick up in media res...

JB: All right, let me just quickly recap. Dooku-Tyranus is getting ready to escape the shit-storm that has become Geonosis…Lee the droids are prepping your ship for take-off, but it’s going to take at least a couple minutes. Obi and Ana, you two managed to jump from your transport to the hanger ledge just before it was blown out of the sky…whatever happens you aren’t going back that way.

Chris: That’ll make it tough for Padme to rejoin the party.

Evan: I have a feeling she may not want to join this particular party…her character was pretty torn up, and falling out of the transport didn’t help.

JB: You guys aren’t looking so hot yourselves. Obi-Wan is down to 65 hit points and has already used his Second Wind for the day. Anakin, you’re down to 53 and still has his Second Wind to use –

Chris: You said I couldn’t use it till half my hit points were gone…

JB: Right, so not till you’re below 43. Meanwhile both of you have recovered your Condition track up to full. Tyranus, you are completely unscathed after fleeing the prior scene.

Lee: Discretion IS the better part of valor.

Chris: Coward!

JB: All right, this will be settled soon enough. Just so everyone knows, this is going to be the final encounter of this “episode.” Win or lose, we’ll be doing a denouement and picking up with a new story-adventure next session. Since ALL of you are going to be going up a level, you might as well go for broke with the Force Point expenditures…use ‘em or lose ‘em. Let me get a sound off with a Force Point check..

Evan: Eight.

Chris: Five… had to bail Padme out a couple times.

Lee (*smug*): Fourteen.

Chris & Evan: What --?!

JB: You know, if you’d used a Force Point on your Demand Surrender roll against Mace, you might’ve got him to back down.

Lee: I know what I’m doing.

JB: Okay…well, Jedi, you’re in a dark hanger cave carved from the side of the mountain. Machinery and rock meshes together with huge pipes and contraptions bolted into the ancient stone. Dooku stands in the middle of the hanger, watching as his shuttle is being prepped. Perception checks please, DC 10 [everyone rolls and passes]. Okay, no surprise…what’s everyone doing.

Evan: Well, I think we should –

Lee: Man, I’m charging! Let’s kick some ass!

JB: Okay, roll initiative everyone [Lee rolls a 14+21=35; Evan rolls a 17+8=25; Chris rolls a 20+10=30]. All right, as we get to your turn, announce what you’re doing and take your actions. If someone wants to REACT, say so immediately or hold your peace! Lee?

Lee: I’m unarmed and I’m going to Delay my Initiative for now.

Chis: I’m going to use Dark Rage as a swift action, charge, and attack! Hey, the end justifies the means!

Lee: Okay, I’m going to blast him with Force Lightning.

JB: Okay, rolls folks…in order.

Lee: [rolls a 4+21=25 for his Use the Force, exceeding Anakins Reflex defense of 24] Down boy! I spend a Force point to move his condition track an extra -1 step, for a total of -2. [rolls 8D6 damage: 30. This exceeds Damage Threshold of 23] Excuse me, that makes a total condition reduction of -3! Can I use my Quicken Power to hit him with a Force Thrust as a move action, too?

JB: You can only use a maximum of one Force point per round, so no. You CAN spend a Destiny point to use Force Thrust as a Reaction, however…to his charge, I suppose.

Lee: Well, I’ve only got one Destiny point…ah, what the hell. I’d rather eliminate one threat completely.

Chris: Thanks [rolls opposed STR check 11+2=13. Lee rolls 14+21=35, beating Anakin by 22 and knocking him back 5 “squares,” one plus one for each 5 points by which he exceeds the roll]. Crap.

JB: And instant karma strikes the young Padawan…don’t forget to mark down your Dark Side point as you writhe in pain and agony and take [rolls] 3more damage for hitting the ground hard.

Chris: Hey, I’ll spend a Force point as a Reaction to eliminate that Darks Side point. Hey, isn’t it Evan’s turn?

Evan: I’m going to circle around to move into a flanking position, but I’m not attacking...I am fully defensive…as you should have been young padawan.

JB: Okay, everyone roll for initiative [Lee rolls an 18+21=39; Evan rolls a 6+8=14; Chris rolls an 11+10-5=16]. Lee you start again.

Lee: I’m going to use my Presence to intimidate Obi-Wan as a standard action, and I’ll spend a Force point to Quicken Force Lightning as a swift action, really driving home the point of the discussion.

Evan: I’ll react to the Force Lightning by deflecting with my saber!

JB: Okay, okay…one thing at a time! Dooku…do your thing!

Lee (as Dooku): “You can see you’re no match for me…now back down.” [rolls 16+11=29-10 (because Dooku is clearly outnumbered if Anakin will just get off the floor) = 19, not enough to beat Obi-Wan’s Will defense] And…zap! [rolls 12+21=33, easily exceeding Obi-Wan’s Reflex defense] Taste Dark Side!

Evan: I think not [rolls 8+10=18; grimaces]. Wait, I get a re-roll on my Deflect due to Soresu, and this time I’ll spend a Force point [rolls a 15+10+9=34…just barely!].

Lee (*sighs*): Fine. [rolls 4D6 for damage because of the successful Deflection] You still take 13 points of damage.

Evan: THAT I can handle. Give it up Dooku, or we’ll be forced to destroy you! [rolls 7+5=12-5 because Dooku is a higher level than the Jedi]. Pathetic. I seem to recall Obi-Wan couldn’t even persuade Luke to travel to Alderaan with him…

Chris: I’m going to spend a move action and two swift actions to get my Second Wind and recover two-thirds the way towards upping my condition.

JB: Roll initiative guys [Lee gets a 4+21=25, Evan gets 16+8=24, Chris rolls 2+10-5=7]. All right, whathcha’ doing?

Chris: Writhing still, but spending another three swift actions to recover. My condition is now -2 and I’m two-thirds back to -1.

Evan: I’m going to move in and attack, but I’m going to use my full Melee Defense and spend a Force point on my attack roll.

Lee: I draw and activate my lightsaber and move to engage; as a standard action I am going to make a feint to try to set him up for the next turn; as a swift action I am using my lightsaber one-handed with Makashi for the parry bonus.

JB: Got it. Lee start off for Dooku.

Lee: Will do [Lee rolls 12+16=28 for Deception; Evan rolls 12+8=20 for Initiative]. Ha! Obi-Wan you disappoint me! Master Yoda spoke so highly of your saber skills!

Evan: [rolls a 19+8+7 (for Force point) = 34…not enough to break through Count Dooku’s Makashi defense]. Oh, shit. That was a 19! And now I’m flat-footed. I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

JB: Initiative and declarations! [Lee rolls a 1+21=22; Chris rolls 3+8=11; Chris rolls 9+10-2=17]

Evan: [rolls 3+8=11] Ugh…assuming I don’t get killed I’m going to switch to offense and try a Rapid Strike with no melee defense.

Chris: [rolls 9+10-2=17] I’m still recovering; I’ll be back to -1 at the end of the round and one swift action away from full…plus I’m up to 41 hit points.

Lee: [rolls 1+21=22] Yeah, but you were at 41 hit points after that first 2nd wind move action two rounds ago. I’m switching to a two-handed grip and Double Attacking Obi-Wan while his guard’s down. [rolls 4+19-10=13 and 18+19-10=27; notes Obi-Wan’s Reflex defense without DEX and dodge bonuses is 23] I’ll spend a Force point to add to that first attack [rolls 3D6 and gets a 12 increasing the score from 13 to 25; two hits!]. All right, let’s check damage [rolls 2D8+16 for both; gets a 27 and 27]. Another 54 points of damage…I told you to back down!

Evan: Yow! And that drops me to 0 hit points. At least neither blow was over my Damage Threshold; I’m still alive!

Lee: Not for long.

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Archetypal, Jedi

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Episode I)

Medium Human Jedi 7

Destiny 7 Force 8 Dark Side 0
Languages: Basic, Shyriiwook

Defenses: Ref 21 For 19 Wil 19
Hps 70 Threshold 24

STR 14 DEX 13 CON 12 INT 12 WIS 13 CHA 10

Melee: Lightsaber +9 (2d8+7 two-handed)

Talents: Adept Negotiator, Deflection, Redirect Shot, Skilled Advisor

Feats: Dodge, Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (2), Improved Damage Threshold, Martial Arts I, Rapid Strike, Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +9, Endurance +9, Knowledge (Bureaucracy) +9, Use the Force +8

Force Powers: Battle Strike, Force Slam, Mind Trick, Surge

Possessions: Lightsaber, Jedi robes, aquata breather

Destiny: Unknown at this point.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Episode II)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 3

Destiny 10 Force 11 Dark Side 0
Languages: Basic, Shyriiwook

Defenses: Ref 25 For 24 Wil 23
Hps 99 Threshold 29

STR 14 DEX 13 CON 14 INT 13 WIS 13 CHA 10

Melee: Lightsaber +12 (2d8+9 two-handed)

Talents: Adept Negotiator, Deflection, Redirect Shot, Severing Strike, Skilled Advisor, Soresu

Feats: Dodge, Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (2), Improved Damage Threshold, Martial Arts I, Melee Defense, Rapid Strike, Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +11, Endurance +12, Knowledge (Bureaucracy) +11, Use the Force +10

Force Powers: Battle Strike, Force Slam, Mind Trick, Surge

Force Techniques: Improved Move Light Object

Possessions: Lightsaber, Jedi robes, aquata breather

Destiny: To educate Anakin to become a Jedi Knight.

General Obi-Wan Kenobi (Episode III)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 4/Soldier 1/Officer 1/Jedi Master 1

Destiny 3 Force 14 Dark Side 0
Languages: Basic, Shyriiwook

Defenses: Ref 31 For 29 Wil 30
Hps 128 Threshold 34

STR 14 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 13 WIS 14 CHA 10

Melee: Lightsaber +17 (2d8+13 two-handed)

Talents: Adept Negotiator, Battle Analysis, Deflection, Deployment Tactics, Redirect Shot, Severing Strike, Skilled Advisor, Soresu, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers)

Feats: Dodge, Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (2), Improved Damage Threshold, Martial Arts I, Melee Defense, Rapid Strike, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Pistols, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +14, Endurance +14, Knowledge (Bureaucracy) +13, Use the Force +17 (includes +5 Destiny bonus)

Force Powers: Battle Strike, Force Slam, Force Thrust, Mind Trick, Move Object, Surge

Force Techniques: Force Point Recovery, Improved Move Light Object

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity

Possessions: Lightsaber, Jedi robes, aquata breather

Destiny: To destroy General Grievous

"Ben" Kenobi (Episode IV)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 4/Soldier 1/Officer 1/Jedi Master 3

Destiny 1 Force 15 Dark Side 0
Languages: Basic, Shyriiwook

Defenses: Ref 30 For 29 Wil 33
Hps 111 Threshold 34

STR 11 DEX 11 CON 11 INT 15 WIS 16 CHA 14

Melee: Lightsaber +17 (2d8+10 two-handed)

Talents: Adept Negotiator, Battle Analysis, Deflection, Deployment Tactics, Equilibrium, Redirect Shot, Severing Strike, Skilled Advisor, Soresu, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers)

Feats: (Dodge), Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (2), Improved Damage Threshold, Melee Defense, Martial Arts I, Rapid Strike, Triple Crit, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Pistols, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +13, Endurance +13, Knowledge (Bureaucracy) +15, Perception +16, Use the Force +20 (includes +5 Destiny bonus)

Force Powers: Battle Strike, Force Slam, Force Thrust, Mind Trick, Move Object, Rebuke, Surge, Vitality Transfer

Force Techniques: Force Point Recovery, Improved Move Light Object

Force Secrets: Multitarget Power, Quicken Power

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity

Possessions: Lightsaber, Jedi robes, aquata breather

Destiny: To rescue Princess Leia from the Empire.

***NOTE: I do what I can, folks. It's difficult to do justice to Old Ben, at least without giving him an extra few levels.

By the time of the duel on Mustafar, Obi-Wan is 15th level with an additional +2 to CHA, the Triple Crit feat, and the Quicken Power secret. Being all about defense, he can wait for his opening.

With such great D, why does he have such a tough time with Count Dooku? 'Cause the good Darth Tyranus can make feints using Deception, negating all those little Dodge bonuses Obi-Wan gets (including when using his Melee Defense feat). He would have been gutted by Palpatine as well.

The radical departure, of course, is the addition of Soldier/Officer classes to the mix...however, there must have been some reason he earned that "General" moniker (unlike Anakin)...and anyway, where else would he have learned to shoot a pistol?***

One More Geezer

Qui-Gon Jinn (Episode I)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 5/Jedi Master 2

Destiny 14 Force 14 Dark Side 0
Languages: Basic

Defenses: Ref 30 For 28 Wil 29
Hps 115 Threshold 28

STR 14 DEX 12 CON 12 INT 11 WIS 14 CHA 14

Melee: Lightsaber +17 (2d8+11 two-handed)

Talents: Adept Negotiator, Deflection, Force Intuition, Force Perception, Force Persuasion, Foresight, Redirect Shot, Skilled Advisor

Feats: Bantha Rush, Dodge, Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (2), Martial Arts I, Rapid Strike, Skill Focus (Use the Force), Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Endurance +13, Knowledge (Galactic Lore) +12, Use the Force +19 (used for Initiative, Perception, and Persuasion checks also)

Force Powers: Battle Strike, Force Slam, Mind Trick, Move Object, Surge, Vital Transfer

Force Techniques: Force Power Recovery, Improved Sense Surroundings

Force Secrets: Quicken Power

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity

Possessions: Lightsaber, Jedi robes, aquata breather

Destiny: To discover the Chosen One

***NOTE: Actually, not all that much to note here save that Qui-Gon kicks a lot of ass. I kind of thought he was going to turn out fairly wimpy with all those Jedi Consular talents, but such was not the case. In fact, I reduced his CON and increased his WIS because he seemed to be ending up, TOO hearty. Oh, yeah...and I could find NO stat write-up for Qui-Gon in any of the Saga edition sourcebooks, nor in the core rules.

It IS kind of sad that the game is focused almost entirely on combat and combat applications. Every single talent, power, and feat gives some sort of combat bonus. Foresight? Its only rules is that it helps you re-roll initiative. Adept Negotiator? Talking to an opponent impairs their ability to fight. Pretty retarded I'm afraid.

One more thing regarding Qui-Gon: once he completes his Destiny, he gains a +1 bonus to each of his defenses...not that it saved him from his impalement. It's interesting (from a game perspective) how many characters get killed or wiped out shortly after achieving their Destiny. From the game perspective, this stems from the rule that Destiny points cannot be spent after fulfilling one's Destiny until a new Destiny has be chosen. If Qui-Gon was a PC, he appears to have been shut down by the Jedi Council in this regard (he wanted to move onto the "Educate" Destiny, but the Jedi Council asked him to put off any decisions on Anakin till after the Sith crisis was over. Unfortunately, he got burned prior to a resolution).***

The Obsession Continues

Still on a Star Wars kick, going back and modifying prior Vader posts as I've re-watched the films (yes, he speaks Huttese now...I had to switch the INT and CHA stats and am still satisfied with the result).

Yesterday, down at Gary's I saw an absolute ton of D20 Star Wars in the "used section," but none of it was Saga Edition. In looking through (what appears to be) the 2nd incarnation of D20 Star Wars I am struck by how much I prefer the Saga edition with its five straight "heroic classes" (and one "nonheroic" class), made more customizable through the Talent tree system. Hell, even the skills in Saga are easier to track than 3rd or 3.5 edition D&D (can't believe I'm saying THAT, but yeah, it's true).

The older version of D20 Star Wars just was crazy with regard to the classes available. The Dark Side source book was a total mess I can't even begin to describe.

But oh I am still plunking away at Star Wars write-ups in my (not-so-spare) time. Hopefully this phase will pass before the end of the week!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"All Too Easy..."

Darth Maul (Episode I)

Medium Zabrak Soldier 6/Scoundrel 1/Elite Trooper 3/Sith Apprentice 3

Destiny 0 Force 12 Dark Side 8
Languages: Basic, Zabrak, Sith

Defenses: Ref 31 For 31 Wil 25
Hps 136 Threshold 31 (Damage Reduction/1)

STR 16 DEX 16 CON 16 INT 12 WIS 8 CHA 8

Melee: Double-bladed lightsaber +15/+15, +16/+16 versus Jedi (2d8+14 two-handed)

Talents: Dark Scourge, Devastating Attack, Greater Devastating Attack, Greater Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Melee Smash, Skirmisher, Stunning Strike, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers)

Feats: Armor Proficiency (Light and Medium), Dodge, Dual Weapon Mastery I, Dual Weapon Mastery II, Force Sensitivity, Force Training, Martial Arts I, Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiency (Lightsabers, Pistols, Rifles, and Simple weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +14, Initiative +14, Knowledge (Tactics) +12, Perception +5 (untrained but re-roll due to zabrak species), Use the Force +10

Force Powers: Force Thrust

Force Techniques: Improved Move Light Object

Class Abilities: Damage Reduction 1, Delay Damage

Possessions: Double bladed lightsaber, Sith robes

Destiny: None.

***NOTE: Darth Maul's statistics are provided in a separate sourcebook (Threats of the Galaxy), and for me, it is one of their poorest takes on a character from the films.

Personally, I don't see Maul needing to be particularly high level to be an absolute killer threat to Jedi. I see a 13th level character being plenty of threat while still giving a young Obi-Wan the chance to finish him off with Qui-Gon's help.

Furthermore, I have a real problem with giving levels of "Jedi" to a Sith character that has never been a Jedi. Vader and Tyranus are fallen Jedi of course, and it makes sense for them to carry several levels of Jedi. Maul (and Palpatine/Sidious for that matter), were never part of the Jedi order. While Force sensitive, I see Maul as more of a trained hunter-killer than a character with any "Jedi" training.

Anyway, he displays little in the way of Force powers (a single moved small object, accomplished with a Use Force roll and a single instance of Force Thrust). Mainly, Maul just beats and batters his opponents with brutal hand-to-hand combat. While obviously well-trained with the saber-staff, one can easily picture him working over non-Jedi as easily with a simple gaffi stick.

As I detail the rest of "the Geezers," specifically Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, I plan on trying to run the various film combats using the D20 Saga rules to see how close I can come using the mechanics as presented.***

Did You Ever Wonder...

...if George Lucas had to come to some sort of settlement agreement with Larry Elmore for completely ripping off the clumsy, humorous zeetvah race when creating his "gungan" species for Star Wars (that's Jar-Jar Binks, know, the most hated CGI creation of all time?).

I love SnarfQuest. I used to have the graphic novel compiling the first couple years' comic strips from Dragon. I don't know whatever happened to it. It sure did make me laugh a lot.

: )

[BTW: I refuse to post a picture of Jar-Jar on this web site]

Down at the Local Game Store...

Picked up a used copy of the original Rifts Conversion book for $6.50 today. I think my collection of "the few Palladium books I'd ever bother to purchase" is just about complete. A copy of the first "Rifts Sourcebook" and the Vampire Kingdoms world book are the only things missing from my original library that hold any interest for me.

As a side note, I was browsing through the Star Wars books the other day when the manager asked me if I planned on buying anything for blog talking points. Turns out he's started reading the ol' B/X Blackrazor blog (hi, Tim!) at least when it gets slow around "the office."

It's strange to actually talk with a reader face-to-face about the stuff I'm writing. Yes, my wife occasionally reads the blog, but most of the gaming stuff goes way over her head. Actually conversing about the topics with a knowledgeable game player (with whom I have a long customer-merchant relationship) is...interesting, and a bit disconcerting. After all, here I can type stuff up and launch it out into the Great Unknown Void with little consequence (well...I don't know if Kenzer will ever entrust me with free material to read/review again).

Standing toe-to-toe with someone...even someone who enjoys and/or agrees with what I'm writing...well, sometimes I feel like I need to justify what and why I'm blogging what I'm blogging. Uncomfortable.

Well, so long as my money is still good in their shop...I guess I just need to get over it.
; )

Saturday, February 20, 2010

And Now...Dooku

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus (Episode II)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 5/Jedi Master 2/Noble 1/Sith Apprentice 1

Destiny 0 Force 14 Dark Side 14
Languages: Basic, Geonosian, Two additional languages as needed

Defenses: Ref 33 (38 with lightsaber one-handed) For 30 Wil 33
Hps 111 Threshold 30

STR 8 DEX 17 CON 11 INT 13 WIS 14 CHA 16

Melee: Lightsaber +19 (2d8+13, +16 two-handed); note: Triple Critical on 19-20

Talents: Ataru, Demand Surrender, Lightsaber Defense (3), Makashi, Severing Strike, Vaapad, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers), Wicked Strike

Feats: Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (3), Improved Defenses, Linguistics, Skill Focus (Use the Force), Skill Training (Deception), Triple Crit, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +16, Deception +16, Initiative +21 (includes +5 Destiny bonus), Knowledge (Technology) +14, Use the Force +21

Force Powers: Force Lightning (3), Force Thrust, Move Object (4), Rebuke

Force Techniques: Force Power Mastery (Move Object), Improved Move Light Object

Force Secrets: Quicken Power

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity

Possessions: Custom lightsaber, rich clothing, air of self-confidence

Destiny: None

Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus (Episode III)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 5/Jedi Master 2/Noble 1/Sith Apprentice 1/Sith Lord 1

Destiny 0 Force 15 Dark Side 15
Languages: Basic, Geonosian, Four additional languages as needed

Defenses: Ref 33 (38 with lightsaber one-handed) For 30 Wil 34
Hps 100 Threshold 30

STR 5 DEX 14 CON 8 INT 14 WIS 15 CHA 17

Melee: Lightsaber +19 (2d8+12, +14 two-handed); note: Triple Critical on 19-20

Talents: Ataru, Demand Surrender, Lightsaber Defense (3), Makashi, Severing Strike, Telekinetic Power, Vaapad, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers), Wicked Strike

Feats: Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (3), Improved Defenses, Linguistics, Skill Focus (Use the Force), Skill Training (Deception), Triple Crit, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +15, Deception +16, Initiative +20 (includes +5 Destiny bonus), Knowledge (Technology) +15, Persuasion +16, Use the Force +21

Force Powers: Force Lightning (3), Force Thrust, Move Object (4), Rebuke

Force Techniques: Force Power Mastery (Move Object), Improved Move Light Object

Force Secrets: Quicken Power

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity, Temptation

Possessions: Custom lightsaber, rich clothing, air of self-confidence

Destiny: None

***NOTE: I DID take a look at the Clone Wars sourcebook to check out Wizards' version of Count Dooku, and as usual was totally dissatisfied. Main points of contention: although the films are the only "true canon" to which I adhere, certain points regarding Dooku must be considered based on expanded information. For example, although the various lightsaber "forms" are unmentioned in the films, different styles are certainly observed between characters, and as the forms ARE included in the Jedi Knight's Talent tree, it seems only suitable to use them. Yoda was the acknowledged master of the Ataru (Hawk-Bat form), while Dooku was a master of Makashi or "Contention form," a fencing technique with emphasis on lightsaber combat. In the films, he demonstrates Yoda's Ataru style as well, flying through the air (though not as quick as Master Yoda). Of course, WotC gives him neither of these Talents. It was these skills that made him one of the foremost 'saber duelists of his was noted that other than Yoda, Dooku was the only Jedi to ever best Mace Windu in lightsaber combat.

Another point, only briefly mentioned in the film, was Dooku's return to his aristocratic roots after leaving the Jedi Order (Dooku being only one of 12 Jedi Masters to do so accounting for his bust in the Jedi Temple). A level of Noble prior to his joining the Sith appears appropriate, especially as it gives him the Demand Surrender talent, attempted in both Episodes II and III. WotC ignores this as well.

As mentioned earlier, Dooku is pretty old at the time of the films. Based on the actor's age at filming, he is 78 (Old) in Episode II and 81 (Venerable) in Episode III, accounting for a drop-off in fighting power (including a loss of hit points); despite this, he remains a fairly formidable opponent. It is not un-reasonable to consider that Dooku's leaving of the Jedi, his susequent disenchantment with the Order, and his fall to the Dark Side may have been predicated in part on the loss of his abilities to age. It is quite possible his dueling success against Master Windu came years earlier when he was in his prime (or middle aged at most), being 20 years older than the younger Jedi.

Finally, while Dooku's final Destiny may seem to have been ending up in four separate pieces ("you'll die as you lived, in the flash of the blade..."), I have assumed he fulfilled two Destinies prior to his appearance in celluloid: the Education of his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn and his own Corruption to the Dark Side (upon assuming the Sith mantle). The bonuses for the fulfillment of these destinies is included above.

Oh, yeah...I've included two more versions of Dooku below. The first is an "Episode I version," of a sort (after his leaving of the Jedi Order, but before his fall to the Dark Side). He is still 68 and Old and actually at the lowest point of his career prior to his Sith. The second is Dooku in his prime, just prior to reaching Middle Age. Though not as strong in the Force, he is a tremendous duelist.***

Count Dooku ("Episode I")

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 5/Jedi Master 2/Noble 1

Destiny 3 Force 12 Dark Side 6
Languages: Basic, Geonosian, Two additional languages as needed

Defenses: Ref 31 (36 with lightsaber one-handed) For 29 Wil 30
Hps 106 Threshold 29

STR 8 DEX 15 CON 11 INT 13 WIS 13 CHA 15

Melee: Lightsaber +17 (2d8+11, +13 two-handed); note: Triple Critical on 19-20

Talents: Ataru, Demand Surrender, Lightsaber Defense (3), Makashi, Severing Strike, Vaapad, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers)

Feats: Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (3), Improved Defenses, Linguistics, Skill Focus (Use the Force), Skill Training (Deception), Triple Crit, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +14, Deception +14, Initiative +19 (includes +5 Destiny bonus), Knowledge (Technology) +13, Use the Force +19

Force Powers: Force Thrust, Move Object (4), Rebuke

Force Techniques: Force Power Mastery (Move Object), Improved Move Light Object

Force Secrets: Quicken Power

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity

Possessions: Custom lightsaber, rich clothing

Destiny: To be corrupted by the Dark Side.

Jedi Master Dooku (Age 40)

Medium Human Jedi 7/Jedi Knight 5/Jedi Master 1

Destiny 1 Force 13 Dark Side 2
Languages: Basic

Defenses: Ref 31 (36 with lightsaber one-handed) For 29 Wil 27
Hps 122 Threshold 29

STR 11 DEX 18 CON 14 INT 11 WIS 11 CHA 13

Melee: Lightsaber +18 (2d8+12, +16 two-handed); note: Triple Critical on 19-20

Talents: Ataru, Lightsaber Defense (3), Makashi, Severing Strike, Vaapad, Weapon Specialization (Lightsabers)

Feats: Double Attack, Force Sensitivity, Force Training (3), Improved Defenses, Skill Focus (Use the Force), Triple Crit, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (Lightsabers), Weapon Proficiencies (Lightsabers, Simple Weapons)

Skills: Acrobatics +15, Initiative +20 (includes +5 Destiny bonus), Use the Force +17

Force Powers: Force Thrust, Move Object (2)

Force Techniques: Force Power Mastery (Move Object), Improved Move Light Object

Class Abilities: Fearless, Serenity

Possessions: Custom lightsaber, Jedi robes

Destiny: To be corrupted by the Dark Side.

Back From Vancouver

Had a great time at the Olympics today (living in Seattle, there really was no excuse not to check it out). Got to see a round of eight in the men's curling (the U.S. pulled out a razor-thin victory over Sweden), and walked around downtown checking out the general chaos, taking photos of the Olympic cauldron, etc. It was a ton of fun, well organized and well run, and a lot less of a headache (regarding parking and driving) than I expected.

Even had a chance to talk with the wife about Star Wars (in context with the RPG). She's not much of a Star Wars fact, over lunch she had me explain the last three films as she didn't remember "how everything turned out." A few choice quotes made me laugh enough to write them down:

[regarding Yoda]:
"I'm not a fan of that little Kermit guy; I don't get why people think he's 'the bee's knees.' He's not very smart...he can't even talk right!"

[regarding the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt]:
JB - "So Princess Leia sneaks into Jabba's palace in disguise -- "
M - "Disguised as a prostitute!"
JB - "No, no..."

[regarding Vader as a cyborg]:
JB - "He wasn't nearly as powerful once he had all his limbs cut off."
M - "Well, he could still play baseball."
JB - "What --?"
M - "As a base!" (*laughs*) " that too mean?"

Congrats to all the Olympians, and to B.C. and Canada for being such great hosts of this world class event. Now, back to our usual gaming posts...
: )

Friday, February 19, 2010

Statting Up The Geezers

Age and attention to age is ridiculously important in D20 Star Wars Saga Edition. Unlike, other RPGs, including other versions of Star Wars (notably WEG, I don't remember 1st edition D20) the age of characters has dramatic impact on the abilities of characters.

How dramatic? Well a venerable age character has a straight -6 across all physical abilities (STR, DEX, and CON). Pretty rough, considering how many characters in the film are middle aged and older.

But perhaps other folks running D20 don't care about the age of characters...they run their game in that same mythical limbo that allows Batman to continually act like an adult in his prime, despite being over 90 years old this year. However, when playing a Star Wars saga that takes place over years and/or decades, keeping track of the years (and how they impact both PCs and NPCs) is vitally important.

And yet ridiculously fiddly. Count Dooku seems remarkably spry for an 81 year old man in the films, thanks to the magic of CGI and stunt doubles. I mean, I certainly can't do a back-flip to save my life and Christopher Lee rattles 'em off like no octogenarian should. You'd think they (i.e. WotC) would leave the whole age thing out of it, as age seems to slow down no one, save perhaps Alec Guinness.

And yet they don't. And since my experiments with the D20 book is to use the rules as written, I'm embracing the fiddly-ness myself (sorry, Dooku, old boy). I mean, it doesn't really take THAT much more time than the rest of character creation (as D20 is incredibly fiddly with or without aging rules).

Plus, it has a very real impact on the game. Unlike WotC, whose character write-ups are TERRIBLE, I'm not inclined to make every character 19th level. But even so, they ARE high level (the Jedi Masters and Sith Lords, anyway) and so how could the mid-level characters (like Anakin and Obi-Wan) do so well against them? AGE is the balancing factor.

Poor Count Dooku (my favorite geezer). He crosses one of D20's break-points (from Old to Venerable) between Episode II and Episode III and drops several points across his stat line, while Anakin is still in the prime of his youth. No wonder he ends up a carcass ten minutes into the film.

So the question is (once you've embraced the fiddly and decided to re-write the characters) how does one determine ages of the characters?

Welp, when the two trilogy films are your Bible, you've got to go with the Bible. That's roughly how the wookiepedia folks have done it, anyway. 'Course my timeline's a little different from theirs.

Taking the films in chronological order (that is Episode I coming first), characters' ages are based on the actual actors' ages from their first appearance, unless an actual age is stated (like Chewbacca being 200 years old in Episode IV, Yoda being 900 in Episode VI, or Boba Fett being 10 in Episode II). Now when I say "actors' ages," I mean age at the time of filming. So Obi-Wan is 26 in Episode I (even though Ewan McGregor was 28 at the time of the film's release).

Now to tell when in time things occur, we base the timeline off Anakin and Obi-Wan, the main continuous characters between Episodes 3 and 4. By Episode II, McGregor is getting the age make-up, so we can't go with his actual age anymore; instead, we use the adult Anakin. Christian is age 19 during the filming of Episode II. Episode II is supposed to be 10 years after Episode I (based on the cloning order and Tyranus/Dooku's new apprenticeship to Sidious). That means Anakin is supposed to be age 9 during Episode I, and Obi-Wan is thus 17 years older than Anakin, throughout the series.

Guinness is 62 when Episode IV occurs, so Vader is age 45 (regardless of Prowse/James Earl Jones age). Everyone else is easy (Ian McDiarmind is age 54 when appears as Palpatine in Episode I...that means the Emperor is 95 years old in Return of the Jedi!).

EXCEPT that there is no date provided for the battle on Mustafar and the end of the Clone Wars. How old is Anakin when he falls to Darkness? There is no hard-and-fast date. We could use Luke and Leia's age in Episode IV and count backwards to the date of their birth...except that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher aren't the same age despite playing twins (there's about 4 years difference between 'em)! In the end, I took the route of the wookiepedia folks here: 3 years passed between Episode II and Episode III so Anakin must be three years older (i.e. age 22). And since he's 45 in Episode IV, Luke and Leia must be roughly 23 (or 22 and a half).

With aliens and droids, of course, none of this matters...hell, none of it REALLY matters, does it? But when you start immersing yourself in the fiddly bits of D20...well, I guess one can't help but "nerd out" a bit (or more than a bit!).
; )

All to yoga. Have a good Friday folks! Posting will be light this weekend as we're heading up to Vancouver to check out the Olympics.
: )